G-8 endorses new global HIV vaccine enterprise
The formation of a new global consortium to streamline research and development efforts to accelerate progress towards an HIV vaccine was announced by G-8 countries during their annual summit which took place in the US state of Georgia in June an initiative welcomed by WHO and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
The plan endorsed by Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the UK and the US calls for the establishment of HIV vaccine development centres throughout the world, the expansion of manufacturing capabilities, the creation of standardized measurement systems, the construction of clinics for trials and the creation of rules allowing regulatory authorities in different countries to recognize the results of foreign clinical trials.
"I welcome the G-8's political endorsement of this initiative," said WHO Director-General, Dr LEE Jong-wook. "The Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise will bring a new political and financial dimension to addressing the complex challenge of developing a safe and effective HIV/AIDS vaccine."
According to WHO, HIV/AIDS vaccine development has been slow mainly due to "enormous" scientific, logistical and financial hurdles. Since the discovery of HIV as the cause of AIDS in 198384, numerous vaccine candidates have been tested in more than 70 human clinical trials but with moderate success. So far, only one vaccine candidate has concluded the stage of definitive trials but it did not show any noticeable level of efficacy.
The Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise aims to enhance coordination, information sharing and global collaboration amongst the world's HIV vaccine researchers in industrialized and developing countries in both private and public sectors. The initiative will prioritize the scientific challenges that need to be overcome, coordinate product development efforts and encourage greater use of information sharing technologies.
According to WHO, this would mean that existing resources would be better aligned and could be channelled more efficiently. It is hoped that the plan will also encourage more effective synergies between research efforts and global preventative and therapeutic efforts.
"AIDS has always challenged us to do business differently, and this is no less true with the development of a vaccine," said UNAIDS Executive Director, Dr Peter Piot. "The G8's endorsement of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise is a vital boost to help it forge the strategic planning, collaboration, and global investment of resources by governments and industry that is commensurate with the intensive effort required to develop a globally accessible and affordable HIV vaccine."
Partners in the enterprise include the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Vaccine Research Centre in the US, the European Research Institutes, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, European Union and national HIV vaccine programmes and research institutions from developing countries.
More information about the programme is available from the UNAIDS website: www.unaids.org